Frederick County planners would have more control over where companies could build data centers and what the facilities would look like under a bill the County Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday.
If the bill passes, it would add data centers — high-security warehouses that organizations and companies use to store and process massive amounts of data — to a zoning class that currently allows for manufacturing facilities and warehouses.
Data centers would only be permitted on land that is zoned for them.
“We don’t want Frederick County to look like Loudoun County, in terms of data centers,” said Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D), who is sponsoring the bill on behalf of County Executive Jan Gardner (D).
Loudoun County, Virginia, is home to roughly 70 data center facilities from Amazon Web Services alone and is expecting more than $500 million in tax revenue from data centers next year, Loudoun County Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer previously told the News-Post.
Gardner said the bill was a response to Texas-based Quantum Loophole announcing plans last June to develop a campus near Adamstown for companies to build data centers on. A spokesperson for Quantum Loophole did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
It’s not yet clear how many data centers will be built on the property, though the county executive’s hope is to limit disruptions to nearby communities.
Under the bill, data center facilities must be built on at least 80,000 square feet of property and be set back at least 50 feet from the property line in all directions.
Moreover, data center facilities cannot be taller than 60 feet, and if a company installs security fencing, vegetation must keep the fence from public view.
“As this world-class data center campus develops, it is our collective goal to ensure that this development is done well and is compatible with the surrounding community,” Gardner said in an email.
The bill outlines noise standards to limit the impact to nearby properties, given how noise can be a concern in jurisdictions that allow data centers. The facilities would need to maintain a sound level from the property limits no higher than 70 decibels, which is softer than a vacuum cleaner but louder than a conversation or business office.
A new five-member architectural review committee consisting of architects, industrial specialists and those with other related experiences would be responsible for reviewing applications from companies seeking to establish data centers.
“If data centers are going to come in any way, shape or form,” Keegan-Ayer said, “let’s make sure we control where they go and what they look like.”
Frederick County is currently home to data center facilities for the Social Security Administration and Fannie Mae mortgage loan company, though the county has received other interest too.
A $30 billion proposal for Amazon to build data centers in at least three communities in the county fell through last year, in part because Amazon and county government couldn’t reach an agreement on the project’s timeline.
Amazon’s proposal came at a time when the county didn’t have a specific zoning designation to outline which land would be available for data centers.
If the bill passes, the county’s Planning Commission would be able to point to areas on which companies could develop data centers, Keegan-Ayer said.
Though the County Council is scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday, the body’s decision could be delayed.
An amendment from Democratic council members Kai Hagen and Jessica Fitzwater that would require data centers to meet U.S. Green Building Council standards for sustainability, water efficiency and energy usage was added to the council’s meeting agenda Monday.
If the council votes to adopt the amendment, the entire bill would likely have a public hearing next week before returning to the council for another vote.
Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan
So exiting Gardener and wish she would exit Keegan-Ayers would rather continue to lose the tax revenue and continue as a county with mostly just Biotech jobs so the citizens have to get on interstates to commute out of Frederick to get work. Thankfully Gardener is leaving and wish Keenan-Ayers would well. We need our representatives to represent the citizens that elected them not their own personal preferences.
"“As this world-class data center campus develops, it is our collective goal to ensure that this development is done well and is compatible with the surrounding community,” Gardner said in an email."
Oh, so it's a done deal then? Any public input and discussion is just a sham? Checking the boxes? Good to know.
"Under the bill, data center facilities must be built on at least 80,000 square feet of property and be set back at least 50 feet from the property line in all directions."
50 whole feet (17 paces) huh?
"Moreover, data center facilities cannot be taller than 60 feet, and if a company installs security fencing, vegetation must keep the fence from public view."
SIX (6) stories tall?! The fence may be hidden, the ugly box sure won't be.
I'm not dead set against data centers, but I'm not clear on what the benefit is, other than (potentially) a net gain for the FredCo treasury.
How much does FredCo stand to gain? Is it worth the lost land? The increased demand on resources from the people who would work there? The substantial demand for water for cooling equipment? The additional traffic? More students in our schools?
Off the top of my head, the answer is no.
If the answer is determined to be yes, if 10 data centers are thought to be an overall positive, then why not 20? Or 200? More money is good, right?
AOC, just say “I hate the Dem CE and CC and everything they do” and get it over with.
Exactly. She, he, or ? is making no effort at all to understand. Just uninformed, delusional political rants.
What, so Jan Gardner was for data centers before being against them?
In a June 2021 article; Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner said that the centers will provide a stable source of jobs and tax revenue while having a relatively minimal impact local services such as schools, traffic and other infrastructure.
For all the things the property could be, the data center complex could be great if it’s done right, she said. Gardner said that while the county wants to continue a diverse economy with biotechnology, information technology, and other elements, data centers add a resilience to the county’s economy.
“We’re always looking to bring good employers to the county,” she said.
On the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, it says; An advantage to choosing Frederick County is the strategic location. Being adjacent to Loudoun County, it is about 30 miles or less than one millisecond by fiber to Ashburn. Other advantages include proven fast track permitting for priority development processes, tax exemptions and a dedicated team to manage data center projects.
Frederick County has a long history of zero business personal property tax. This local exemption covers the items a business uses and owns for day-to-day operations – such as furniture, tools, computers and more – reducing the overall cost of doing business when compared to other regional areas.
Fast Track Permitting expedites projects through the development process while adhering to all established standards, resulting in cost savings during the planning phase of the project. The County understands the critical timing associated with data center projects and assigns an ombudsman to assist the Company’s development team through the permitting process to ensure a smooth and coordinated process. For projects of significant impact and investment, the County’s Turbo Fast Track process is even more streamlined.
FNP on Feb 9, 2022
But Gardner, who is term-limited, said in a statement that Hough “seems unaware that counties in Northern Virginia gain the majority of their tax revenue from data centers through the assessment of a business personal property tax that Frederick County does not assess.”
“Senator Hough demonstrates that he is a political opportunist and is not aware of what is actually happening in Frederick County,” Gardner said. But Jan was quoted previously, “the centers will provide a stable source of jobs and tax revenue while having a relatively minimal impact local services such as schools, traffic and other infrastructure.”
Helen Propheter at the Office of Economic Development (OED) stated that it is an incentive that Frederick County has a long history of zero business personal property tax. This local exemption covers the items a business uses and owns for day-to-day operations – such as furniture, tools, computers and more – reducing the overall cost of doing business when compared to other regional areas.
Top Economic Development News
July has been a hot one with exciting opportunities for our Frederick County businesses.
We are excited to share that on June 28th we welcomed Quantum Loophole, Inc. (QL) to Frederick County. QL completed the purchase of 2,200 acres of land of what was formerly known as the Alcoa Eastalco site in the Adamstown/Buckeystown area. QL will transform the property over the next 10+ years into a first-of-its-kind environmentally friendly data center campus. The project will get new life as the home of a state-of-the-art data center development and bring high quality employment opportunities from world-renowned businesses to our community. OED is poised to partner with QL to develop this data center site, visit our newly launched Data Center webpage.
“This is big news for Frederick County! I am pleased that the former Eastalco property will once again serve as an employment center with high-paying jobs. Quantum Loophole has committed to develop an environmentally sensitive data center project that respects and values the surrounding community and our Livable Frederick Master Plan. Data centers provide a stable source of tax revenue and jobs, while having a net positive impact on local services such as schools, roads and other infrastructure. I look forward to Quantum Loophole sharing their plans with the surrounding community.”
Jan Gardner, Frederick County Executive
So, since June of last year the executive and council did nothing.
On Feb 8th reporter Hogan wrote, One Frederick County official said Amazon seemed to underestimate the complexity of the process the county usually follows for development projects, including opportunities for public engagement if a proposal moves forward.
The county timeline was restricted, in large part, by this year’s elections for County Council and county executive. County code prohibits zoning changes within six months of the end of a term, meaning officials would’ve had less than a year to complete the necessary permitting, planning and rezoning for Amazon to break ground on new facilities.
But didn’t OED state “The County understands the critical timing associated with data center projects and assigns an ombudsman to assist the Company’s development team through the permitting process to ensure a smooth and coordinated process. For projects of significant impact and investment, the County’s Turbo Fast Track process is even more streamlined.” WHAT?
So now we are even closer to the election and our county leaders are trying to RAM THROUGH this legislation. But why? Who exactly is financially benefitting?
The old saying, “follow the money” seems appropriate here. Because if there is no one financially benefiting it sounds like the current 3rd floor occupants of Winchester Hall may be suffering with Multiple Personality Disorder.
CE Gardner’s proposal should not receive a vote until after the next election!
I am against data centers but I use to be for them! Rich History, Dimming Future.
You’re all over the place and confused.
Quantum develops data center communities, they don’t own or operate them. They bought Eastalco last year and their plan is to develop a dc community on 1,000 acres already zoned for industrial use. I believe there’s going to be 29 lots for individual centers totaling > 17 MILLION square feet, that can be bought by whichever companies what to come here: Google, Apple, Amazon, whoever.
The fast tracking is for permitting of the buildings once a dc development is approved, not to fast track zoning which is what Amazon needed to begin with. They came here last year looking to purchase and build their own data centers on land currently zoned agricultural. Totally different process than Quantum. In order to accommodate Amazon’s unreasonable demands, the County would have had to make large scale changes to the 2010 comprehensive zoning map and essentially re-write the Livable Frederick master plan, and all the small area plans within LF like the Sugarloaf Plan, with all of the required public hearings at each step and all in less than a year. Impossible.
This CDI bill doesn’t deal with zoning or the adequacy of public facilities (roads, schools, etc.) necessary to approve other types of projects (residential, commercial, industrial) -that’s already been done for the Quantum project. What this does is establish aesthetic site design standards of new data center developments before construction of the project begins (Quantum is the only one for now) separate from already codified commercial, residential or industrial site plans because these data centers and the development sites are an entirely new species of project to the County. There’s nothing like them in the county right now.
Not at all. CE and CC are all over the place, that is for sure. Didn't liveable Frederick solve all issues?
Again the CE and CC should have moved on this back in June, July or August.
Believe what you want. You’ve never demonstrated yourself to understand issues or think critically. You just knee-jerk at things you don’t think you like or should be against, no matter if the outcome is really justified. Sorry, can’t help you with that. You really shoots change your name to MTG, for Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s way more your style.
matts853 Mar 15, 2022 1:18pm
Believe what you want. You’ve never demonstrated yourself to understand issues or think critically. You just knee-jerk at things you don’t think you like or should be against, no matter if the outcome is really justified. Sorry, can’t help you with that. You really shoots (sic) change your name to MTG, for Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s way more your style."
Thank you for allowing me to think what I want. It seems clear you do not subscribe to the FNP belief this forum was created to: "Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms."
Apparently because I identify as a women I inferior to you and I must be sub-human: "You’ve never demonstrated yourself to understand issues or think critically. You just knee-jerk at things you don’t think you like or should be against, no matter if the outcome is really justified. Sorry, can’t help you with that. You really shoots (sic) change your name to MTG, for Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s way more your style."
To paraphrase Associate Justice Potter Stewart who wrote in 1964 that “hard-core pornography” is hard to define but “I know it when I see it.” I think I just witnessed a misogynists, "one who displays prejudice against or looks down upon women" who don't agree with you.
Bet you made your parents proud and most certainly, female co-workers, consider you a joy to work with. Good job FNP moderators.
I support the data centers. While CE and CC claimed to be for data centers their actions (or previous lack thereof) give the appearance they no longer support them. Why?
What is your position exactly matts853? I really would like to know if you are willing to share.
Wow! Way to jump to a whole mess of erroneous conclusions and validating my comments. Get a grip.
What is the answer for data centers or against?
I support the Quantum development at Eastalco. Data centers are an appropriate use for that property and I’ve actually looked at what Quantum is planning and I think they will do good job improving the property as far as the restoring a more natural environment, improving storm water management since there currently is nine, restoring parts of Tuscarora Creek. My primary concern is cooling water usage. They should use wastewater effluent not drinking water.
I’m against rezoning any ag or natural resources land to industrial for future data centers.
I’d really like to know, AOC, have you looked at any of the Quantum planning documents or watched any of the planning commission hearings? Don’t be shy to tell me. My guess is a big fat NO.
No reasonable person could possibly reach the conclusion that Jan and the CC are against data centers. No one. This bill is being proposed to enable their development where appropriate - industrial zoned land. What precisely in all of your purely ideological ramblings give you that impression. Please take off your MAGA cap to help you think better, Marj.
I read it too!
Kelly, the boss, worked really hard on this, was clearly disappointed when the county failed to deal with the "secret business" last fall. Admittedly, Kelly is gone but reading your comments was making me believe some folks at 401 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore were now supporting the CE and CC in slowing the process with the last-minute Hagan/Fitzwater amendment.
Thankfully, the legislation passed at the CC meeting tonight when Hagan and Fitzwater withdrew their amendment. It's a shame the legislation had not been introduced early-on which would have allowed the county to possibly deal with Amazon.
Just a friendly suggestion, never assume others have not read the background material and you are the lone orator of all knowledge.
I started reading about it beginning with Ms. Laxton’s press release of Jun 2021.
Quantum Loophole 062821 Jun 27, 2021
I also read with great interest and excitement the report of Mike Petersons (Rogers Consulting) to Ashley from November 2021 as well as soil report by GEO-TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATES, INC. All of which was included in the planning commission’s packet for the December 15, 2021 meeting. I read all 104 pages because of interest. Not because I was being paid to read it.
FcPc 12/15/2021 Quantum Frederick Mar 11, 2022
I would like to be first to “wave the flag of surrender” if we have simply been having a miscommunication, because it sounds like we both support these data centers. What about you, will you accept my apology and extend the same?
Again, I followed the proposal because of personal interest. Please share your reasons, for your interest and involvement.
But talking down to me because I am not of your gender is repugnant.
I never care what gender people are when it comes to political debates, and I have no idea why you thought I was making it an issue. Besides I had always assumed you were a cowboy mocking AOC. Simply not an issue with me.
What a ridiculous rant! This bill is about delivering a quality aesthetic data center campus that respects the community and it's neighbors. That's called good planning and it should be applauded. The county can welcome data centers and do it right all at the same time!
You talk as if this is something new for the area and for Frederick County. These very issues were dealt with over 55 years ago at this very same site. But somehow that has been forgotten.
When Howmet purchased the farmland for the Eastalco site it was zoned with those very same issues being front and center. Howmet was adamant it wanted to be a good neighbor and took local county leaders to Washington state to view their most recent plant which displayed their committment.
Howmet commtted to use only approximately 350 acres for the plant itself the remaining 1000+ acres would remain as a buffer. Thousands of trees and other vegitation was planted. Hundreds of other acres purchased were leased back to local farmers to retain the buffer zone and to maintain farming culture of the area. Eastalco created ballfields on the property for public use.
It was Livable Frederick that upset the Adamstown community when the planning department designated the site as "New Town."
Eastalco was good neighbor, employed many residents and committed to have state monitoring of air quality to ensure environmental committment.
The CE and CC President were no doubt still in elementary school in PA and VA. Had they been in office in the mid-60's Eastalco would probably been blocked, of course with Mr. Hagen's and Ms. Fitzwater's help.
The “New Town” idea never made it into LF. It was shot down. You really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I doubt you’re capable of this, but try to think and understand issues before you spout off nonsense. OR, say thanks to those that correct and inform you. You’re welcome.
We have data centers in Frederick and have for a long time. Marriott reservation / data center has been in Frederick for decades. Impressive facility next to Westview at 85 and Crestwood. And there others. Why is Frederick County so anti data center? Why is Frederick County so anti business? Almost half the county is employed outside the county - wouldn’t it be awesome we actually had enough jobs here to sustain the population? What kinds of businesses do people think would be acceptable? Beginning to think the answer to that is none.
No career jobs in Frederick co. Same as PG county. Everyone works in the district or MoCo.
But you can surely find a steak and cheese sub! Who has the best S&C sub in the county?
I thought our great tech center was gonna save us all? Work here live here!
It’s more like “eat here, stay fat here”
Those old school data centers are nothing like the new species of hyper-scale centers contemplated in this bill. The Quantum data center development at Eastalco is approved for 17.4 Million sf of buildings under roof, on like 29 parcels. These are massive centers that employ relatively few people, certainly < 100 each.
The APF-LOU allows for 1.5 million gallons per day of water usage: .2 mgd for general use, and 1.3 mgd for cooling of the equipment. There’s 2 options for that: pipe in drinking water from the New Design water treatment plant; or pipe in effluent from the Ballenger-McKinney waste water plant.
Again, this is nothing like we have now. By a long shot.
Just read an article in BioBuzz indicating Frederick County was now the 2nd biggest hub for biologics and life science companies in Maryland. And I've seen signs for new life science companies along Rt 85S.
Exactly, saogirl. Plumbum doesn't know anything about other industries in Frederick County, other than bars and fast food joints. I wonder why. The BioPharma industry is huge in Frederick, and employs lots of people with high-paying jobs. We had stalwarts like Life Technologies (now ThermoFisher), BioWhittaker/Cambrex (now Lonza), and MedImmune (now a part of AstreZeneca), Charles River, and Kemp Proteins all still here in Frederick County. We have newcomers, such as Kite BioPharma and Ellume. There are also dozens of small biotech start-ups.
And all you know are G.H.’s, Professor Bully!
Says the Troll of the Year
Hey plumbum, I found that picture you were asking me for! Isn't this you sunning yourself on the beach while on vacation?
agreed threecents, Gabrielshorn, please don't stoop to Plumbum's level.
Agreed three and md1756. Not my finest hour by stooping tp plumbum's level. I'll self report the thread and try to get it deleted.
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